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The Green Man: Tales from the Mythic Forest

The Green Man: Tales from the Mythic Forest

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The Green Man: Tales from the Mythic Forest

avaliações:
4.5/5 (4 avaliações)
Comprimento:
425 página
5 horas
Lançado em:
Mar 24, 2020
ISBN:
9781504060387
Formato:
Livro

Descrição

Drawing on the mythology of the Green Man and the power of nature, Neil Gaiman, Jane Yolen, and others serve up “a tasty treat for fantasy fans” (Booklist).
 
There are some “genuine gems” in this “enticing collection” of fifteen stories and three poems, all featuring “diverse takes on mythical beings associated with the protection of the natural world,” most involving a teen’s coming-of-age. Delia Sherman “takes readers into New York City’s Central Park, where a teenager wins the favor of the park’s Green Queen.” Michael Cadnum offers a “dynamic retelling of the Daphne story.” Charles de Lint presents an “eerie, heartwarming story in which a teenager resists the lure” of the faerie world. Tanith Lee roots her tale in “the myth of Dionysus, a god of the Wild Wood.” Patricia A. McKillip steeps her story in “the legend of Herne, guardian of the forest. Magic realism flavors Katherine Vaz’s haunting story. Gregory Maguire takes on Jack and the Beanstalk, and Emma Bull looks to an unusual Green Man—a Joshua tree in the desert” (Booklist). These enduring works of eco-fantasy by some of the genre’s most popular authors impart “a real sense of how powerful nature can be in its various guises” (School Library Journal).
 
“A treasure trove for teens and teachers exploring themes of ecology and folklore.” —Kirkus Reviews
 
“The stories are well-written and manage to speak to both the intellect and the emotions.” —SF Site
Lançado em:
Mar 24, 2020
ISBN:
9781504060387
Formato:
Livro

Sobre o autor

Neil Gaiman is the celebrated author of books, graphic novels, short stories, films, and television for readers of all ages. Some of his most notable titles include the highly lauded #1 New York Times bestseller Norse Mythology; the groundbreaking and award-winning Sandman comic series; The Graveyard Book (the first book ever to win both the Newbery and Carnegie Medals); American Gods, winner of many awards and recently adapted into the Emmy-nominated Starz TV series (the second season slated to air in 2019); The Ocean at the End of the Lane, which was the UK’s National Book Award 2013 Book of the Year. Good Omens, which he wrote with Terry Pratchett a very long time ago (but not quite as long ago as Don’t Panic) and for which Gaiman wrote the screenplay, will air on Amazon and the BBC in 2019. Author photo by Beowulf Sheehan


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Contributors

Preface

Ellen Datlow and Terri Windling

When we journey deep into the woods in myths, fairy tales, or modern fantasy fiction, we travel to a place of magic, danger, and personal transformation. Forests have provided the setting for some of the most enchanted tales in world literature, from the perilous woods of medieval Romance and the faery-haunted glades of Shakespeare and Yeats to the talking trees of Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings and the archetypal wilderness of Robert Holdstock’s Mythago Wood.

In this book, we’ve asked the writers to journey deep into the Mythic Forest, to bring back tales of those wild lands, and of the creatures who dwell within them. Thus in these pages you’ll find witches, wolves, dryads, deer men, a faery or two, and numerous magical spirits of nature (even a jolly green giant!) Charles Vess, our cover and interior artist, is a frequent traveler in the lands of myth, as well as the founder of Green Man Press. What better artist to send us off on the dark paths through the woods?

In the Scottish ballad Thomas the Rhymer, the Queen of Faery shows Thomas three mysterious paths leading into the trees:

See ye not yon narrow road,

so thick beset with thorns and briars?

That is the path to righteousness,

though after it but few enquire.

And see ye not yon broad, broad road

that lies across the lilie leven?

That is the path to wickedness,

though some call it the road to heaven.

And see ye not that bonny road

which winds about the fernie brae?

That is the road to fair Elfland,

where you and I must gae.

Like Thomas, we’ve chosen the bonny, winding road that leads into lands of magic—through forests, deserts, mountains, cities, suburbs, and mythical landscapes. Oak and ash whisper over our heads, and other green creatures watch from the shadows. We hope you’ll enjoy this journey into the trees. But watch your step.

Introduction

About the Green Man and Other Forest Lore

Terri Windling

When we peer into the shadows of the Mythic Forest, a startling face stares back at us: the Green Man, masked with leaves or disgorging foliage from his mouth. The Green Man is a pre-Christian symbol found carved into the wood and stone of pagan temples and graves, of medieval churches and cathedrals, and used as a Victorian architectural motif across an area stretching from Ireland in the west to Russia in the east.

Although the Green Man is commonly perceived as an ancient Celtic symbol, its origins and original meaning are actually shrouded in mystery. The name dates back only to 1939, when folklorist Lady Raglan drew a connection between the foliate faces in English churches and the Green Man (or Jack of the Green) tales of folklore. The evocative name has been widely adopted, but the legitimacy of the connection still remains controversial, with little real evidence to settle the question one way or the other. Earliest known examples of the foliate head (as it was known prior to Lady Raglan) date to classical Rome—yet it was not until this pagan symbol was adopted by the Christian church that the form fully developed and proliferated across Europe. No known writings exist that explain what the head represented in earlier religions, or why precisely it became incorporated into Christian architecture, but most folklorists conjecture that it symbolized mythic rebirth and regeneration, and thus became linked to Christian iconography of resurrection. (The Tree of Life, a virtually universal symbol of life, death, and regeneration, was adapted to Christian symbolism in a similar manner.)

The Jack in the Green is a figure associated with the new growth of spring and May Day celebrations. In Hastings, England, for instance, the Jack pageant is still re-enacted each spring. The Jack in the Green is played by a man in a towering eight-foot-tall costume of leaves, topped by a masked face and a crown made out of flowers. He travels through the town accompanied by men whose hair, skin, and clothes are all green, and a young girl bearing flowers, dressed and painted entirely in black. Morris and clog dancers entertain the crowds, while the Jack—a trickster figure—romps and chases pretty girls, playing the fool. At length he reaches a mound in the woods below the local castle. The Morris dancers wield their wooden swords, striking the leaf man dead. A poem is solemnly recited over the creature, then merriment breaks out as each member of the crowd takes a leaf from the Jack for luck. (According to mythologist Sir James Frazer, the killing of a tree spirit is always associated with a revival or resurrection of him in a more youthful and vigorous form.)

In Bavaria, a similar tree-spirit called the Pfingstl roams through rural towns clad in alder and hazel leaves, wearing a high pointed cap covered by flowers. Two boys with swords accompany him as he knocks on the doors of random houses, asking for presents but often getting thoroughly drenched by water instead. This pageant also ends when the boys draw their wooden swords and kill the green man.

In a ritual from Picardy, France, a member of the Compagnons du Loup Vert, dressed in a green wolf skin and foliage, enters the village church carrying a candle and garlands of flowers. He waits until the Gloria is sung, then he walks to the altar and stands through the Mass. At its end, the entire congregation rushes up to strip the green wolf of his leaves, bearing them away for luck.

Such rituals are the debased remnants of pre-Christian rites and festivities. In early pagan religions, trees were held sacred; forest groves were perceived as the dwelling place of gods, goddesses, and a wide variety of nature spirits. A staunchly animist outlook (with a strong reverence for trees and the holiness of nature) was particularly entrenched among the peoples in the far north of Europe and in the British Isles—thus these were two of the areas where Christian priests of the Dark Ages (such as Devon’s stern St. Bonifice) waged war against older beliefs, cutting down sacred trees and putting whole groves of woodland to the torch. To the Norse, in the wild, wintry forests of Scandinavia, a giant ash tree called Yggdrasil was the center of the universe. Its three great roots linked Asgard (the realm of the gods), Rime-Thusar (the realm of the Frost Giants), and Niflheim (the realm of the dead) with the human world above.

The Celtic tribes of Britain and Ireland assigned each type of tree magical properties, and the twigs from the tops of trees were prized by magicians, warriors, and healers. Each letter in the Celtic ogham alphabet stood for a tree and its magical associations, and the symbology of trees is a richly poetic presence in Celtic myths. The English poet Robert Graves, in his extraordinary book The White Goddess, deals at great length with the order and meanings of the letters comprising this tree alphabet. He conjectures that the famous Welsh Battle of the Trees (a group of ancient poems preserved in the sixteenth century manuscript The Romance of Taliesin) refers to a druidic battle of words rather than a literal battle of vegetation.

Sacred trees and groves also played a central part in Greco-Roman myths. The oak was the tree sacred to Zeus, whose priests heard his voice in its rustling leaves. Adonis, the god of returning seasons and new crops, was born from the trunk of a myrrh tree. The nymph Daphne turned into a laurel tree in order to escape ravishment by Apollo. The laurel was sacred to goddess cults, and was the tree of poetic inspiration. Many scholars consider the god Dionysus to be a forerunner of the Green Man symbol, for Dionysus is often pictured masked, crowned in vines and ivy leaves. This compelling but dangerous deity was the lord of the wilderness; he was the god of wine (made from wild grapes), madness, and ecstasy. Dionysus is also a god of the underworld (in the guise of Okeanos), associated with death and rebirth—particularly as he was (according to some stories) thrice born himself: first as the son of Persephone and Zeus (devoured as a child by Titans), second as the son of Semele of Thebes (who died as a result of Hera’s jealousy before the baby came to term), and third, as the fetus from Semeles body born out of the thigh of Zeus.

Various scholars have pointed out the parallels between Dionysus and the Celtic stag-man Cernunnos, consort of the Moon Goddess and lord of the forest in Britain and Gaul, who was also associated with the underworld and the great cycle of death and resurrection. Carved heads representing this forest god were once placed near doorways, springs, and woodland shrines, often carved with holes in which stag antlers or foliage was placed.

The Greek goddess Artemis was another creature of the forest, attended by beautiful tree nymphs (dryads) and bands of unmarried girls. Although she was a virgin in the later Greek and Roman traditions, in earlier accounts she was the Mother of All Creatures, and not virginal but free of the control of men, as were her priestesses. Artemis was revered as a great huntress, and feared for the wild side of her nature—many forest groves were sacred to her and thus could not be entered without peril. In the famous story of Actaeon, a beautiful young man out hunting with his friends stumbles into one of her groves and spies the goddess bathing in a pool. For this crime, Artemis transforms Actaeon into a stag (with full human consciousness). Unaware, his own dogs and friends hunt the young man down and tear him apart.

Despite her later incarnation as a virgin, Artemis was also the goddess of childbirth—under the name Eileithyia, she was the goddess of release to whom pregnant women prayed during the pain of delivery. In this guise, she is related to the Green Man’s wild female counterpart, the Green Woman, depicted in stone carvings as a primitive female form giving birth to a spray of vegetation. This Green Woman symbol is far less common than the Green Man, being rather harder to adapt to Christian iconography or Victorian decoration—and yet quite a few Green Women appeared on Irish churches built before the sixteenth century, where they were known by the name Sheela-na-gig. Some of these figures are still intact, others were destroyed or buried during church renovations in the nineteenth century. As with the yoni figures of India, it is customary to lick one’s finger and touch the Green Woman for luck.

The city of Rome was born of the forest, according to its mythic origin tales. Rhea Silvia (Rhea of the forest) was the daughter of the king of Alba Longa until her uncle stole the throne. She was packed off to the Roman equivalent of a nunnery, but gave birth to twins, Romulus and Remus, after being raped by Mars, the god of war. The false king ordered the twins to be drowned, but instead (in the best fairy tale fashion) they were left abandoned in the forest. A she-wolf suckled the infants; then the children were raised to manhood by a forest brigand. When Romulus emerged from the woods, he helped his grandfather recover the throne of Alba Longa and then returned to the forest, cleared a hill, and founded the city of Rome. By Roman law, the forest at its gates belonged to no one and lay beyond civil jurisdiction. This was the realm of Silvanus, the god of sacred boundaries and wilderness. As Rome grew, the power of Silvanus dwindled, not only locally, but in all the lands where the Roman empire extended. In those times, explains Robert Pogue Harrison in Forests: the Shadow of Civilization, the forests were literally everywhere: Italy, Gaul, Spain, Britain, the ancient Mediterranean basin as a whole. The prohibitive density of the forests once preserved the relative autonomy and diversity of the family- and city-states of antiquity. The forests were obstacles—to conquest, hegemony, homogenization. By virtue of their buffers, they enabled communities to develop indigenously; hence they served to localize the spirit of place. In their woodlands lived spirits and deities, fauns and nymphs, local to this place and no other. In their drive to universalize their empire, the Romans found ways to denude or traverse this latent sylvan mass … building roads, imperial highways, institutions, a broad integrated network of ‘telecommunications.’

Mass clearings of land for building and agricultural use had profound ecological implications even in antiquity, as forest after forest was demolished and the soils of once fertile lands eroded. As early as the fourth century

B.C

., Plato wrote with grief in the Critias of the barren hills surrounding Athens as grove after grove fell before the plow or the shipbuilder’s ax.

According to Greco-Roman tradition, dryads die when their personal tree is cut down. This is also true of other tree spirits who inhabit the forests of Europe, including the vegetation faeries of many different cultures. In some cautionary tales, the faery folk take their revenge upon humans who dare disturb their haunts. In others, the faery quietly pines away when her habitat is destroyed—and when she dies, the beauty and magical soul of the land dies with her.

Supernatural forest spirits take many forms, ranging from the exquisite dryads of the Greeks to the ugly tree trolls of Finland and Norway. The swor skogsfru (wood wives) of Sweden are seductive and utterly beautiful… from the front. In back, these faery women are made of bark and are hollow as logs. In Italy, the silvane (wood women) mate with silvani (wood men) to produce the folleti, the enchanting faeries of the land. In England, many earthy brownies and hobgoblins make their homes in oak tree roots, and each kind of tree has its own faery to tend it and enable its growth. Men made of bark seduce young maids in the fairy tales of eastern Europe—some of them dangerous, others making tender, courteous lovers.

The wood spirits in the forest of Broceliande (now known as Paimpont) in Brittany also range from the benevolent to the malign. In one old tale, a lost traveler finds his way to a strange chateau in the woods. The beautiful lady of the house offers him food, drink, and her own arms to sleep in at night. He gallantly refuses the latter, which breaks the faery’s hold on him. The morning light reveals the chateau in ruins, empty, reclaimed by the forest. Broceliande is the woodland where Merlin the magician lies entrapped in the bowels of a tree, tricked or seduced by the faery sorceress Vivian (also known as Nimue). Merlin is a figure intimately connected with forests in Arthurian lore, for it was during his years of madness roaming the forests of Wales, after the disastrous Battle of Arderydd, that he learned the speech of animals and honed his prophetic powers. A similar tale recounts the trials of Sweeney, an Irish hero cursed in battle, forced to flee to the woods in the shape of a bird. Like Merlin (and other shamanic figures who seek Mysteries in the wilderness), Sweeney goes mad during his long exile—but when he emerges from the trial, he has mastery over creatures of the forest.

In epic romances, heroes enter the woods to test their strength, courage, and faith; yet sometimes, like Merlin, they find madness there—as does the lovelorn Orlando in Ariosto’s Orlando Furioso, one of the great poems of the Italian Renaissance. In the famous medieval tale Sir Gawain and the Green Knight, a mysterious knight rides out of the woods and into Camelot on New Year’s Eve. His clothes are green, his horse is green, his face is green, as are all his bright jewels. He carries a holly bush in one hand and an ax of green steel in the other. The Green Man issues a challenge that any knight in the court may strike off his head but, should the challenger fail to kill him, in one year’s time, he must come to the Green Chapel and submit to the same trial. Gawain agrees to this terrible challenge in order to save the honor of his king. He slices off the Green Knight’s head; the creature merely picks it up and rides back to the forest, bearing the head in the crook of his arm. One year later, Gawain seeks out the Green Knight in the Green Chapel in the woods. He survives the trial, but is humbled by the Green Man, who catches Gawain in an act of dishonesty.

In the French romance Valentine and Orson, the Empress of Constantinople is accused of adultery, thrown out of her palace, and gives birth to twins in the wildwood. One son (along with the mother) is rescued by a nobleman and raised at court, while the other son, Orson, is stolen by a she-bear and raised in the wild. The pair eventually meet, fight, then become bosom companions—all before a magical oracle informs them of their kinship. The wild twin becomes civilized while retaining a primitive kind of strength, but when, at length, his brother dies, he retires back into the forest. This epic presents another great archetypal figure: the Wode-house or wild man, a primitive yet powerful creature one finds in tales ranging from Gilgamesh (in the figure of Enkidu) to Tarzan of the Apes.

The medieval imagination was fascinated by wild men, notes Robert Pogue Harrison, but the latter were by no means merely imaginary in status during the Middle Ages. Such men (and women as well) would every now and then be discovered in the forest—usually insane people who had taken to the woods. If hunters happened upon a wild man, they would frequently try to capture him alive and bring him back for people to marvel and wonder at. Other famous wild men of literature can be found in Chrétien de Troyes’s romance Yvain, Jacob Wasserman’s Casper Hauser (based on the real life incident of a wild child found in the market square of Nuremberg in 1829), and in the heart-stealing figure of Mowgli in Rudyard Kipling’s The Jungle Book.

Mythic tales of forest outlaws are a sub-category of wild man legends, although in such stories (Robin Hood, for example) the hero is generally a civilized man compelled, through an act of injustice, to seek the wild life. Magical tales of hermits and woodland mystics form another sub-category, and Christian legends are filled with tales of saints living in the wilderness on a diet of honey and acorns. This, again, is bolstered by the actual experience of people in earlier times, when it was not uncommon for folk marginalized by the community (mystics, herbalists or witches, widows, eccentrics, and simpletons) to live in the wilds beyond the village, either by choice or by necessity. An elderly neighbor of mine in Devon, England, remembers such a figure from her youth—a harmless old soul who lived in a cave and was believed to have prophetic powers.

To the German Romantics, forests held the soul of myth and thus of volk (folk) culture, believed to be more pure and true than the artifice of civilization. E.T.A. Hoffman, Ludwig Tieck, Baron Friedrich de la Motte Fouqué, Novalis, and other German writers entered the fairy tale forest to create mystical, darkly magical works making deft use of mythic archetypes. In the early nineteenth century, the Brothers Grimm published their famous German folklore collections, full of tales in which a journey to the dark woods was the catalyst for magic and transformation. The passion for folklore spread across Europe, touching every area of popular arts in addition to fostering a new academic climate for collection of oral tales and ballads. In Scotland, the Reverend George MacDonald, inspired by the works of the German Romantics, began to write folkloric stories—like The Light Princess and The Golden Key—which are now classics of magical literature. In the faery woods of MacDonalds imagination, talking trees (both wondrous and wicked) are drawn directly from mythic archetypes, forming part of a literary tradition that runs from the prophetic trees in the magical adventures of Alexander the Great, through the Wood of Suicides in Dante’s Inferno, to the Ents in Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings. The Victorian painter Edward Burne-Jones and his fellow Pre-Raphaelite artists returned again and again to the Archetypal Forest in their paintings, poetry, and prose—including novels such as The Wood Beyond the World by Burne-Jones’s great friend William Morris. As the century turned, Celtic Twilight writers like the Irish poet William Butler Yeats found magic in the twilight woods with which to fuel their art. In the early twentieth century, writers such as Hope Mirrlees (Lud in the Mist), James Stephens (The Crock of Gold), and Lord Dunsany (The King of Elfland’s Daughter) created modern mythic tales to explore the woodlands that lie (to borrow Dunsany’s phrase) beyond the fields we know. Then three Oxford dons came along—J.R.R. Tolkien, C.S. Lewis, and Charles Williams—calling themselves the Inklings, whose work has profoundly influenced most magical fiction written since.

It is the challenging task of modern fantasists to assimilate the works produced by these three (Tolkien in particular), while avoiding the pitfall of merely producing pale imitations of it. Modern writers who have managed this most successfully (Alan Garner, Ursula K. Le Guin, Jane Yolen, Philip Pullman, etc.) are those familiar with the mythic source material which the past masters used to such great effect—as well as those for whom a strongly personal vision shines through Professor Tolkien’s long shadow.

Neil Gaiman is a good example of a modern myth-maker who avoids being derivative, even when he gives a tip of the hat to Dunsany, Mirrlees, and Christina Rossetti, as in his charming faery novel Stardust. This story, set in an English woodland at the Wall separating our world from faeryland, reads like a classic nineteenth-century story yet is utterly fresh and original. Stardust began as a collaborative work first published in narrative graphic form with enchanting paintings by Charles Vess. The woodland created by this talented pair is not a generic Fantasy Forest—through Gaiman’s clever yet gentle prose and Vess’s Rackham-flavored pictures these woods are specifically English and yet archetypal as well, filled with true magic. The spirit of the woodland is also a captivating presence in the Japanese animated film Princess Mononoke, with its English screenplay adapted by Neil Gaiman, a deeply folkloric work in which all the power and terror of the Mythic Forest is brought vividly to life. Robert Holdstock is a writer who has traveled deeper into the woods than any other mythic writer, and the books of his Mythago Wood sequence are essential reading, as well as his Breton novel Merlin’s Wood.

Charles de Lint writes interstitial works which bring the potent archetypes of the mythic woods into modern urban settings, particularly in his novels Forests of the Heart and Greenmantle. In The Wild Wood, inspired by the art of Brian Froud, de Lint takes us deep into the woods of northern Canada—a prismatic landscape where magic and madness waits, as in shamanic tales of old.

The woodlands of Patricia A. McKillip’s tales are some of the finest in fantasy literature; I recommend her novels Winter Rose and The Book of Atrix Wolfe, as well as her unusual contemporary story Stepping from the Shadows. I also recommend Sean Russell’s World without End and its sequel Sea without a Shore; Rumours of Spring by Richard Grant; Engine Summer by John Crowley; The Word for World Is Forest by Ursula K. Le Guin; Cloven Hooves by Megan Lindholm; The Stone Silenus by Jane Yolen; Enchantments by Orson Scott Card; and Thomas the Rhymer by Ellen Kushner. The Bloody Chamber by Angela Carter and Red as Blood by Tanith Lee are good story collections filled with deliciously dark, Freudian flavored fairy tale woods. And for fine novels set in American wilderness, try: Wild Life by Molly Gloss, Nadya by Pat Murphy, The Flight of Michael McBride by Midori Snyder, and Power by Linda Hogan.

Visual artists have also been caught by the powerful spell of the Mythic Forest. In addition to the art of Charles Vess, which beautifully ornaments this volume, I recommend seeking out art books on the work of two English sculptors: Andy Goldsworthy (Wood) and Peter Randall-Page (Granite Song, available through the Internet Bookshop, www.book-shop.co.uk), as well as the Scottish photographer Thomas Joshua Cooper (Between Dark and Dark), British painter Brian Froud (Good Faeries/Bad Faeries, and Faeries, with Alan Lee), and the fairy tale art of Golden Age illustrators Arthur Rackham, Kay Nielsen, and Edmund Dulac.

For further reading on the subject of the Green Man, forest folklore, and nature mythology, try: Green Man by William Anderson and Clive Hicks, The Wisdom of Trees: Mysteries, Magic and Medicine by Jane Clifford, Celtic Sacred Landscape by Nigel Pennick, A Dictionary of Nature Myths by Tamra Andrews, Forests: The Shadow of Civilization by Robert Pogue Harrison, Meetings with Remarkable Trees by Robert Packenham, Discovering the Folklore of Plants by Margaret Baker, The Practice of the Wild by Gary Snyder, The Spell of the Sensuous by David Abram, The Power of Myth by Joseph Campbell, and The White Goddess by Robert Graves.

The Mythic Forest is every forest—we enter it whenever we enter the woods. The Green Man dwells there, called by different names all over the world. When we hear the rustling of the leaves, we’re still hearing the Oracle, and the oaks are still the home of faeries … or at least of tales about them. In California, there are living trees, the bristlecone pines, that are thousands and thousands of years old. So are the stories of the trees. They are ancient, deeply rooted in the loam, yet still unfurling bright new leaves.

Going Wodwo

Neil Gaiman

Shedding my shirt, my book, my coat, my life,

Leaving them, empty husks and fallen leaves,

Going in search of food and for a spring

Of sweet water.

I’ll find a tree as wide as ten fat men,

Clear water rilling over its grey roots.

Berries I’ll find, and crab apples and nuts,

And call it home.

I’ll tell the wind my name, and no one else.

True madness takes or leaves us in the wood

halfway through all our lives. My skin will be

my face now.

I must be nuts. Sense left with shoes and house,

my guts are cramped. I’ll stumble through the green

back to my roots, and leaves, and thorns, and buds,

and shiver.

I’ll leave the way of words to walk the wood.

I’ll be the forest’s man, and greet the sun,

And feel the silence blossom on my tongue

like language.

Neil Gaiman is a transplanted Briton currently living in the American Midwest. He is the author of the award-winning Sandman series of graphic novels, and of the novels Neverwhere and American Gods. American Gods won the Hugo, the Bram Stoker, the SFX, the Nebula, and the Locus awards. His most recent novel, Coraline, intended for children of all ages, won the Bram Stoker Award in the Work for Young Readers category, and was a Finalist for the World Fantasy Award. Gaiman’s collaborations with artist Dave McKean include Mr. Punch, the children’s books The Day I Swapped My Dad for 2 Goldfish and The Wolves in the Walls, and their new film Mirror-Mask.

In addition, Gaiman is a talented poet and short story writer whose work has been published in a number of the Datlow/Windling adult fairy tale anthologies and in several editions of The Year’s Best Fantasy and Horror. His short work has been collected in Angels and Visitations and Smoke and Mirrors.

His Web site is www.neilgaiman.com

Author’s Note:

A wodwo (or wodwose, or woodwose) was a medieval wild man of the woods. Sometimes they are identified with the Green Men.

This came from wondering what it would mean to be a wodwo now; and from the carvings of Green Men as human-faced men with leaves growing from their mouths.

Grand Central Park

Delia Sherman

When I was little, I used to wonder why the sidewalk trees had iron fences around them. Even a city kid could see they were pretty weedy looking trees. I wondered what they’d done to be caged up like that, and whether it might be dangerous to get too close to them.

So I was pretty little, okay? Second grade, maybe. It was one of the things my best friend and I used to talk about, like why it’s so hard to find a particular city on a map when you don’t already know where it is, and why the fourth graders thought Mrs. Lustenburger’s name was so hysterically funny. My best friend’s name was (is) Galadriel, which isn’t even remotely her fault, and only her mother calls her that anyway. Everyone else calls her Elf.

Anyway. Trees. New York. Have I said I live in New York? I do. In Manhattan, on the West Side, a couple blocks from Central Park.

I’ve always loved Central Park. I mean, it’s the closest to nature I’m likely to get, growing up in Manhattan. It’s the closest to nature I want to get, if you must know. There’s wild things in it—squirrels and pigeons and like that, and trees and rocks and plants. But they’re city wild things, used to living around people. I don’t mean they’re tame. I mean they’re streetwise. Look. How many squished squirrels do you see on the park transverses? How many do you see on any suburban road? I rest my case.

Central Park is magic. This isn’t a matter of opinion, it’s the truth. When I was just old enough for Mom to let me out of her sight, I had this place I used to play, down by the boat pond, in a little inlet at the foot of a huge cliff. When I was in there, all I could see was the water all shiny and sparkly like a silk dress with sequins and the great grey hulk of the rock behind me and the willow tree bending down over me to trail its green-gold hair in the water. I could hear people splashing and laughing and talking, but I couldn’t see them, and there was this fairy who used to come and play with me.

Mom said my fairy friend came from me being an only child and reading too many books, but all I can say is that if I’d made her up, she would have been less bratty. She had long Saran-Wrap wings like a dragonfly, she was teensy, and she couldn’t keep still for a second. She’d play princesses or Peter Pan for about two minutes, and then she’d get bored and pull my hair or start teasing me about being a big, galumphy, deaf, blind human being or talking to the willow or the rocks. She couldn’t even finish a conversation with a butterfly.

Anyway, I stopped believing in her when I was about eight, or stopped seeing her, anyway. By that time I didn’t care because I’d gotten friendly with Elf, who didn’t tease me quite as much. She wasn’t into fairies, although she did like to read. As we got older, mostly I was grateful she was willing to be my friend. Like, I wasn’t exactly Ms. Popularity at school. I sucked at gym and liked English and like that, so the cool kids decided I was a super-geek. Also, I wear glasses and I’m no Ally McBeal, if you know what I mean. I could stand to lose a few pounds—none of your business how many. It wasn’t safe to be seen having lunch with me,

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